Visitors to this site will notice the signatures above: the man born Michael John O’Donovan (or Mícheál Ó Donnabháin in Irish) adopted the pseudonym Frank O’Connor (combining his mother’s maiden name and his confirmation name) when he was a young man, to be able to write as he pleased without jeopardising his government position as a librarian.
He also told Larry Morrow in a 1951 interview, “My mother was an O’Connor – no O’Connors that anybody knew – and my confirmation name is Francis Xavier, not Assisi, hence the violent streak in my nature. As a Carnegie librarian I was forced to adopt a pen-name, so what better than ‘Frank O’Connor’?”
O’Connor’s first translation was in The Irish Statesman in 1925 when he published a verse translation of ‘Suibhne Geilt Speaks’.
 The publication of ‘Suibhne Geilt Speaks’ was also the first appearance of the pseudonym that he would use for the rest of his writing life, Frank O’Connor. Michael O’Donovan began using the pseudonym soon after the controversy that took place following the publication of Lennox Robinson’s short story in To-Morrow, ‘The Madonna of Slieve Dun’ (August 1924). Robinson was accused of blasphemy (the country girl in the story had been raped and then claimed she had been ‘visited’ in the same way as the Madonna), and he was forced to resign his position as secretary and treasurer of the Advisory Committee to the Carnegie Trust in Ireland.
 O’Connor later claimed that as a trainee public librarian he was worried that his own job might also be at risk because of his writing.
 Michael O’Donovan had previously published poetry under ‘M. O D’ and ‘M. O Donnabhain’ in An Long (1922) and The Catholic Bulletin (1923). While changing his name was due, as he claimed, to the Robinson controversy, it was also perhaps in part actuated by a contemporary literary trend as AE, Brinsley McNamara and Sean O’Faolain, amongst others, had also changed their names. These writers had varied reasons for using pseudonyms. Frank Shovlin points out that George Russell’s initial pseudonym was ‘Aeon’ but due to a misreading by one of Russell’s printers, the name appeared as AE with a question mark after it, which was thereafter adopted by the writer.
Russell claimed in a letter that he was shy when young and did not wish anybody to know what he wrote. The more common explanation for the proliferation for pseudonyms in Irish writing in the early decades of the twentieth century is given by Paul Doyle. In his correspondence with O’Faolain, O’Faolain informed him that Gaelic had become associated with the rebel cause, and many enthusiasts changed their names to the original Gaelic forms. Padraic O’Farrell claims that MacNamara chose the pseudonym on an impulse for a stage-name when he appeared in his first lead role in 1910 in the Abbey Theatre (the role was as Denis Barton in R.J. Ray’s The Casting Out of Martin Whelan). The pseudonym incorporated the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s middle name and a relative’s surname.
 O’Connor’s eventual choice of pseudonym might have been influenced by the fact that he thought the Irish and English versions of his real name too similar and therefore too risky, especially considering the erotic undertones of ‘Suibhne Geilt Speaks’.
His daughter Liadain had another perspective: “There was the public man, Frank O’Connor, and the private man, Michael O’Donovan. (I was always glad that he had a pen name. When he was in the middle of a controversy it was handy as a child to hide behind the O’Donovan name. After his death, it was also helpful. People sometimes would say to me, ‘Oh, yes, Frank and I were great friends,’ and I would have my doubts. But if somebody said, ‘I knew Michael well when he was . . . ,’ then there was a good possibility that he really did know him well and I would listen with great interest.)”
Sean T. O’Kelly (former President of Ireland, 1945-1959) and Frank O’Connor